In a sense, Banja Luka is the capital no one really wanted. Most Bosnian Serbs never wanted Bosnia to be independent. Most Bosnjaks and Croats aren’t too crazy about Republika Srpska. Politics and nationalism aside, the city probably has earned the title of the Balkan Wall Art Capital.

Even with a bit of travel experience on the Balkans it is hard to imagine how there could be a place with as many or even more graffiti and murals than Banja Luka.

And indeed, it seems the city government has been actively supporting street art for a number of years now.

The city’s walls have hosted and are hosting the works of art of international street painters as David Bailey from „An Englishman in the Balkans“ points out in his piece on Banja Luka wall art.

That has contributed to the generally high artistic level of murals in the city. Kinda shows, doesn’t it?

Someone seems to like Reggae here.
Someone seems to like Reggae here.

Every courtyard seems to be full of often sophisticated examples of wall art.

Popular Ex-YU and Serbian actors. In the center: Bata Živojinović who became popular for playing the partizan Valter, one of the liberators of Sarajevo. In the 90's Živojinović became a supporter of Serbian nationalism.
Popular Ex-YU and Serbian actors. In the center: Bata Živojinović who became popular for playing the partizan Valter, one of the liberators of Sarajevo. In the 90’s Živojinović became a supporter of Serbian nationalism.
Crime is a part of popular culture on the Balkans.
Crime is a part of popular culture on the Balkans.
Young Mick Jagger? Not entirely sure.
Young Mick Jagger? Not entirely sure.
Sex, drugs and, well, not Rock N'Roll but Reggae.
Sex, drugs and, well, not Rock N’Roll but Reggae.

And not just the courtyards.

No clue what these paintings stand for. But they look nice.
No clue what these paintings stand for. But they look nice.

Occasionally there seems to be a competition going on how many graffiti you could possibly spray on a wall. Which often creates legibility issues.

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A big thing is Borac, the local football club. It has very active fans, some artists among them.

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This one appeals to the fans.
This one appeals to the fans.
A not so sophisticated graffiti on Trg Krajine, the city's main square.
A not so sophisticated graffiti on Trg Krajine, the city’s main square.

The ultra section of Borac fans, the Red Blue Army, seems to be very active in advertising its existence. Balkan football has acquired a reputation for not so peaceful fans. Not just in Banja Luka but in all the Ex-YU-republics.

The German "Über alles/Above everything else" here is somewhat puzzling. It may or may not be a Neonazi reference as is taken from the first stanza (Deutschland, Deutschland über alles...) of the German anthems which isn't intoned at official occasions any longer, being closely tied to German nationalism and the NS regime. The official German anthems now starts with the third stanza (Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit.) With nationalists cooperating all over Europe one shouldn't dismiss the idea of their codes being picked in the process.
The German „Über alles/Above everything else“ here is somewhat puzzling. It may or may not be a Neonazi reference as is taken from the first stanza (Deutschland, Deutschland über alles…) of the German anthems which isn’t intoned at official occasions any longer, being closely tied to German nationalism and the NS regime. The official German anthems now starts with the third stanza (Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit.) With nationalists cooperating all over Europe one shouldn’t dismiss the idea of their codes being picked in the process.

 

This cartoon figure features prominently on many graffiti mentioning the Red Blue Army.
This cartoon figure features prominently on many graffiti mentioning the Red Blue Army.

There are examples of blatant nationalism, too. This is after all a city on the Balkans.

To be fair they don’t seem to make up a significant portion of Banja Luka wall art. But then again, I just might have been in the wrong neighborhoods.

Apparently there were several sprayers at work. The Cyrillic reads: Republika Srpska HATES NATO, the latter apparently having been added later on.
Apparently there were several sprayers at work. The Cyrillic reads: Republika Srpska MRZI NATO/HATES NATO, the latter apparently having been added later on.

And some just are advertisements. Who needs posters, anyways? Art’s here to stay. Beauty salons not so much.

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